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The Jungfraujoch, Switzerland

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The Jungfrau is a mountain located in the Bernese Alps of south-central Switzerland near the city of Interlaken. A popular way to reach the area is to travel by car to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen. From there you have to take the train, as you are not allowed to drive in the mountains. During your trip up to Kleine Scheidegg you have the chance to enjoy a lovely view over the valley while the train climbs higher and higher.

Joch is the German name for a pass between two (or more) mountains. Usually these passes take their name from a mountain (the Jungfrau in this case) in the area. Maybe you have heard about the Gotthardpass? It is similar, the difference being that on a pass you can travel there by car while on a joch you get there mostly by walking and climbing. Therefore this place is extra special - you can get there by train.

The Journey to the Jungfraujoch

This Researcher recommends that you drive to Lauterbrunnen and board the train there in preference to Grindelwald. Lauterbrunnen has good parking facilities and it is less touristy then Grindelwald. Also, the view over the valley is better on this track than the one from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. On the trip up you pass by the lovely village of Wengen. This place is car-free and therefore very popular with people who love peace and quiet during their holidays. After departing Wengen railway station, from your train seat you will soon see, from left to right, the Eiger (3970m), Mönch (4099m) and Jungfrau (4158m).

After arriving at Kleine Scheidegg you will have a good view of these three mountains. To get to the Jungfraujoch you have to transfer to another train. The railroad, travelling in the main through the mountains, stops twice; once in the north wall of the Eiger and once near the Eigergletscher. Here you have a lovely view over the valleys. You are standing in the mountain and are looking through glass. After a two-hour journey you arrive at the Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in the world (3475m).

What To Do At The Joch

Because of the height (3475 metres above sea level) you have to do everything at a slowish pace. If you are running you will be soon out of breath and, due to the thin air, recovering takes a while. Upon arriving at the 'joch' you need to go up to the weather station to enjoy the best view. When the weather is good you have a perfect view into Germany - you can even see the Black Forest. On the plateau are several maps upon which the mountains in each direction are drawn. They contain information such as the height above sea level in metres. When you have enjoyed the view there are several activities available.

Many visitors like to recharge their batteries by drinking and eating something in the restaurant. Here you can rest and enjoy the view from behind the window and the food and drink is good, too. Try one of the local specialities - this Researcher recommends them. On the joch you can ski if you want to. There is a short course set out complete with ski-lifts to take you up again. This is one of the few places in Europe where you can ski during all seasons of the year. If you find skiing too intensive (remember you are 3700m above sea level) you can take a ride in a sled pulled by huskies. This is fun, but rather expensive and some people say the track is too short.

Pack Footwear Suitable for Tramping

If you have remembered to bring the correct footwear, you can walk to a cabin on the Monchjoch. The locals do this trip in about 45 minutes, but it took this Researcher's party an hour and a half to get there. They report it was lovely walking through the snow while wearing only a T-shirt and shorts. During the walk you have a perfect view over the Aletschgletscher. Once you arrive at the cabin you have a view over another valley in Switzerland. The cabin is less touristy and has a local 'feel'. It is also a lot cheaper then eating at the Jungfraujoch and it is much more fun.

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